How One Children’s Fantasy Book Inspired Me to Rethink My Artistic Process…

Lyra’s Oxford

Philip Pullman published his trilogy, His Dark Materials in 1995.  The three main books in the series included:

Northern Lights (The Golden Compass in the U.S.)

The Amber Spyglass

The Subtle Knife

Lyra’s Oxford is a companion novel to the set, along with Once Upon a Time in the North. When I was looking through my book collection, I found an old copy of Lyra’s Oxford in my bookshelf. It was sandwiched between a few other paperbacks I’ve neglected over the years. This edition is simply beautiful in the way it is designed and executed. It is this design that made me take a step back and rethink my creative process.  Take a look at the photos below:

The artwork is the most striking aspect of the book’s visual appeal.  Jon Lawrence, illustrator and engraver, contributed these visuals to the book. The aesthetic is amazing. For me, I can’t resist the look of woodcut and engraved design, nor can I resist the appeal of engraver as a metaphor.

Engravers work on their products with sustained effort over a long period of time, eventually rendering an intricate whole from thousands of little creative decisions.  The parallels to the writing process are pretty obvious.

Jon Lawrence’s work inspires me.  The artwork, layout, and overall aesthetic of this edition urged me to sit down, slow down, and rethink what I do.

Mapping Out A Story

In the center of Lyra’s Oxford, a neatly creased fold-out waits for readers to discover its secrets. This unassuming piece of paper is folded into eighths, with the facing page entitled “The Globetrotter,” a “Series of Maps for the Traveller.”

The Globetrotter – Lyra’s Oxford, Philip Pullman

As the reader unfolds each section, the pages reveal publications, sketches, and advertisements that directly and indirectly allude to characters in the whole His Dark Materials series. It is an outstanding example of keeping continuity within a series.

When fully unfolded, one side of the fold-out  features a tricolor of Oxford, rendered in gorgeous engraver’s print. This style reminds me of the woodcuts of Will Schaff, another artist whose artwork I enjoy. The other side features a plain grid-style map of Oxford. Of course, the map is not the “real” Oxford. This is the Oxford of Lyra Belacqua, the main character in Pullman’s series. Still, there are similarities between both Oxfords.   


I felt a surge of curiosity when I first opened the map. My eye was drawn to each cartouche, emblem, and ink-lined street.


Fold-Out: Jon Lawrence, Lyra’s Oxford


Lawrence’s work does a great job at mapping out a story without even telling it. I imagine the collaboration between Pullman and Lawrence was riveting; or, at least I hope so! While I looked at this map, I thought about a comment my fiancé made in my early journey of planning The Staghorn Crown, a fantasy quintet that follows the lives of four girls as they come of age in a magical fortress called the Stellaria.  As I drafted the first scenes of The Staghorn Crown, Laura turned to me and said, “I assume when this is published, you’ll have a map of this place.”

Of course, I had a very specific idea of what I wanted the Stellaria to look like, but I had not thought about hiring an artist to make it. Until then, I had made my own sketches of rooms, towers, and ancient keeps.

After my encounter with Jon Lawrence’s engravings, I could enrich the reading experience of my novels by having these maps available. My search for the best artist to render them is underway, and I continue to sketch in the meantime.

Keeping My Goals, Changing My Process

What is my  largest take-away?

I learned that I need to periodically slow down and look at the bigger picture. How will my own books provide an experience for the reader? How can I make my own writing immersive? After all, I enjoy the experiences provided by Pullman, Martin, Gaiman, Rowling, Barnhill, and Nix,  and feel inspired whenever I read them.

Lyra’s Oxford gave me the space to sit down and rethink my creative process. I have so many questions:

How do I craft fiction with excellent continuity? How many revisions will this take? I write this, smiling and knowing that it will take enough revisions to make me happily exhausted.

Part of this blog is documenting this complex process.

For those of you new to Paper Palaces, I am a self-publishing author and teacher.  My overall goal is to write a twelve-novel fantasy saga. In 2016, I created the world, mapped out the books, and treated the project as a hobby. My fiancé and I traveled to England, where I was inspired by the beautiful seaside town of Whitby and the Yorkshire Moors.  After that, I had to create these books. It’s become a little bit of an obsession.

While this dream began with a student’s response to a writing exercise, it has since grown. I hope it keeps growing. In the end, creating these twelve books is about sharing a great story with others. I have decided to keep the same goals, despite add one important aspect to my practice. I am thankfully spending more time slowing down.

The Goals I will Keep, No Matter How:

  • To complete the series and build a readership over the next six years.
  • To release preview chapters and installments of my work online to readers, patrons, students, and friends/family.
  • To become part of a writing community so I can see, appreciate, and share the magic of writing.

I hope the little decisions I make along the way are guided by these larger aspirations.

To stay updated on my books, consider joining the Books of Brylennia Facebook Group, where you can connect with Laura and me on the process of writing, editing, creating this fantasy series, and self-publishing. You can post your own contributions too. Join us on the journey. 

Books of Brylennia Reading Group (1).png


Why I wrote for six hours on Saturday and will definitely do it again!


On Saturday morning, I woke up at 5 a.m. and groggily prepared myself for six hours of writing. Fueled with two large coffees, and ready for anything, I opened my laptop, sat down, and produced 6,000 words (4,500 of which I’m willing to keep).

By lunch, I was running around my apartment, sharing my happiness with my fiancé. In the process, my excitement may have annoyed my cats!

This overwhelming feeling of productivity after a successful writing session is familiar to most authors and writers. Usually, I am a very slow writer. I spread my work out over the course of days, methodically planning, plotting, editing, and revising in an almost-meditative state.

To make matters worse, I’m huge fan of daily writing calendars and events, and I am often hooked by thirty-day challenges. However, if I want a balanced life with happy friends, family, students, and of course, a happy fiancé, I have to plan my time thoughtfully.

Throughout the last month, I have spent hours and hours of my time grading papers and attending to other areas of my work and home life. As a result, my regular writing hours became more and more irregular.

I attempted to fix this with a daily schedule, which lead to awkwardly written prose and disjointed scenes that needed to be rewritten. This has happened to me before, and my usual solution is a binge-writing session. Thankfully, I learned that I am not alone.

After a listening to this self-publishing podcast interview with author Steve Windsor, I learned that he typically writes for hours on end. Instead of writing in smaller chunks for several days a week – or having a quota of 500, or 1,000 words per day – Steve writes for longer sessions, often producing the highest word count he can.

In his podcast, he mentions sitting in a cafe for six hours and aiming for 15,000 words. This idea of planting yourself in one place, for hours on end, without the distractions of social media, commitments, or household chores thrilled me. It was inspiring to hear a different message for a change. I think longer writing sessions will be my new norm.

As I move forward and continue to work on my nine-novel series and prequel quintet, I’ll post about the experience here. I think I may have found a process that works for me.

Do you have a process that works for you?

Please share in the comments, link a blog post, or tweet your idea to @staghorncrown on Twitter.

Remember to like, comment, follow, or share via social media!

My Reading Week: It’s Monday, What are you reading? #IMWAYR – October 23rd, 2017


For another monday, I’ve decided to participate in It’s Monday! What are you reading?, which I found through Jen Vincent’s Blog, and Kellee’s Unleashing Readers. Jen has children’s literature as the subject for these posts, which she has defined as  “picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit…”  If you’re interested in books appealing to younger crowds, or children’s literature in general, check the links that Jen Vincent provides on her blog. There you will find a list of sites participating. Each separate site has a similar posting with children’s literature titles.

Since I tend to read middle grade and young adult novels for school, and I’m currently writing a young adult novel series and posting previews on Wattpad, my focus will be on the older end of the children’s literature spectrum. With some exceptions, the books I read are typically a little darker or more serious in content than most you would find in intermediate and primary fiction. 

A link to Common Sense Media appears under each book for parents and teachers to assess whether or not the book’s material is appropriate for their children / students.


What am I reading?


Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli

Reading Status: Looking Forward To This

One of my students gave me this book as a gift, which I always take as a strong endorsement for the book’s quality. In fact, several students have read and enjoyed Stargirl, but I have not yet had the opportunity to read it. At a short 186 pages, Stargirl follows an eleventh grader and the tension between staying unique or becoming “normal.” It’s been quoted on Common Sense Media as a popular book and a “scathing commentary on teenagers.” How interesting! Themes related to nonconformity run throughout the book, which means it will be a great pick for teens.  It’s always nice to see a book that paints social pressure with a full spectrum of colors. I’ll post about it next week, or on YA Friday, if I am finished with it then.

Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli on Common Sense Media


Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology Book Poster Image

Reading Status: Finished.

This is definitely a book that would appeal to young adults, although I’m sure it’s classified as adult fiction/mythology. That’s the funny thing about mythology; the distinctions we build around which audience should read mythology, and at what age,  are blurry at best. Neil Gaiman does a fantastic job of retelling the Norse myths with a contemporary voice. Interestingly enough, there are mixed reviews for this book.

Whenever sacred source material is rewritten, this seems to be the case. Some critics loved it, while others questioned the authenticity of Neil retelling the stories. All in all, this was a quick and gripping read. I recommend it to anyone who loves mythology. Before you hand it to kids, however, please note that it was marketed towards an adult audience. See the CSM link below.

Norse Mythology on Common Sense Media


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


The Graveyard Book Book Poster Image

Reading Status: Partway through – I’m still reading The Graveyard Book! Here’s a link to my previous post.

The Graveyard Book on Common Sense Media

I seem to have a thing for Neil Gaiman lately…


What are you reading?

Please comment or share. The new layout occasionally moves the comment link to the top of the post! Happy Monday!

Follow Curtis on Wattpad: Curtis Teichert on Wattpad

YA FRIDAY: 3 Books to Add to Your Shelf


In an earlier post this Monday, I previewed three books: Pax by Sarah Pennypacker, Ghost by Jason Reynolds, and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman for IMWAYR.

For this week’s YA Friday, I’d like to keep the tradition of previewing a book I have read, one book that I’m partway through, as well as one that I am looking forward to. If you have read any of these books, please like and comment below, letting us know your thoughts!


Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive Book Poster Image


Reading Status: Finished

Summary: The young readers edition of Unbroken is a great non-fiction pick for WWII enthusiasts. The book follows the successes and struggles of Louie Zamperini, an olympian and airman during the Second World War.  Laura Hillenbrand recounts his life story, infusing the pages with heart-breaking moments, intriguing factual information, and stories that illuminate the full spectrum of the human condition.

While there are some intense moments for younger readers, this edition is a solid book to add to the YA shelf. I have included a link to Common Sense Media for teachers and parents to review the books content. Unbroken was made into a popular movie, but as my students would say… the book is often better!

Common Sense Media: Common Sense Media Review: Unbroken – Young Adult Edition


Graceling Book Poster Image

Reading Status: Partway Through

Summary: Kristin Cashore hooked me with the first 100 pages of Graceling. The main character, Katsa, is a Graceling. Like other Gracelings, society has marginalized her for her abilities and appearance – an apt metaphor for how remarkable women are treated in our society.

All Gracelings excel at a skill or talent. Katsa’s happens to be killing. With this skill, she makes a marvelous assassin and enforcer, but her uncle, the King, uses her. Within the first fifty pages, Katsa begins to question her role in the Kingdom. She meets Po, another Graceling from a privileged part of society. Po is Graced with excellent combat skills. While I am only nearly 100 pages in, I can safely say that have enjoyed every page so far.

Common Sense Media: Common Sense Media Review: Graceling

The Iron Trial

The Iron Trial: Magisterium, Book 1 Book Poster Image

Reading Status: Looking forward to!


Callum Hunt has been warned to stay away from magic, yet despite his father’s warnings, he has failed. Callum has “failed at failing” the Iron Trial, opening him for admission to the Magisterium.

As I have not yet started this book, I am very interested your own comments and suggestions. Should I read it? Here’s a delicious quote from the back cover:

“Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.”

Common Sense Media: Common Sense Media: The Iron Trial

If you enjoyed this post or YA Fridays, please like and follow this blog. Share your thoughts in the comment section!


#FantasyFansUnited – Want your audience to grow? Fantasy Fiction Friday # 1

Fantasy Fiction Fridays: #FantasyFansUnited

I know this is published early, but after this week’s coffee question and a responses from WordPress bloggers and Instagram users, I couldn’t help myself.

Paper Palaces will provide a place for Fantasy Fans on WordPress and other platforms to unite, including writers, authors, artists, and other enthusiasts of fantasy fiction, art, and movies.

The goal is to revel in our passion for this genre! Let’s spread the inspiration!

What does that mean, and what’s the difference between this community and others?

Every Friday, I will make a post related to our ever-growing fantasy community on WordPress.

Throughout the week, I also make posts on other Social Media Platforms, using the hashtag: FantasyFansUnited.

I will post links to the highest-quality blogs in this fantasy-loving community, while encouraging the rest of us to do the same.

Who do we welcome?

  • Authors, artists, writers, teachers, readers, book reviewers, and fantasy enthusiasts that write on WordPress and/or other online platforms!
  • Any blogger, Instagram or Twitter user, content creator, and Bookstagram enthusiast

Anyone joining should some interest in any of the following subjects: fantasy fiction, fantasy movies, book reviews and commentary, reading, literature, or fantasy as a genre.

This is just to name a few. If you like fantasy, and you produce or are interested in high-quality content, you should join.

What are the primary interests of this group?

  • Everything fantasy, sci-fi, and speculative fiction
  • Producing and reading high-quality blog posts
  • Building a readership for every blogger that joins
  • Guest-posting on each other’s blogs

What are the benefits and what do we do?

  • As this community grows, your readership will grow.
  • You will get to read high-quality posts
  • You won’t have to sift through the WordPress Reader to find like-minded posts, content, and interesting artwork
  • By posting in this community, your work will be referenced, re-blogged, and visible across other social media platforms

How do you join?

Create your content and include the tag FantasyFansUnited whenever the post relates to the genre of fantasy. If you post on Instagram or Twitter, use the hashtag #FantasyFansUnited.

Add this tag to your reader. It may take some time to populate with posts as we build our community.

I will re-blog and reference our highest-quality posts on WordPress and other Social Media platforms, and I encourage our community to do the same.

What if I want my blog featured, or an author to guest post?

There are two options.

Share your site in the comments section, and I will re-blog or post content on the next Fantasy Fiction Friday after previewing your site. Or, more preferably, use the form on my Coffee Questions Page. By using the form, I can connect you to other creators.

If you like today’s post, please like and follow this blog. Comment with your thoughts below!

Consider joining our community by adding the FantasyFansUnited tag to your WordPress, or by using the same hashtag for your Instagram and Twitter posts.



My Reading Week: It’s Monday, What are you reading? #IMWAYR


This Monday, I’ve decided to participate in It’s Monday! What are you reading?, which I found through Jen Vincent’s Blog, and Kellee’s Unleashing Readers. Jen has children’s literature as the subject for these posts, which she has defined as  “picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit…”

Since I tend to read middle grade and young adult novels for school, and I’m currently writing a young adult novel series, my focus will be on the older end of the children’s literature spectrum.

Therefore, these books are a little darker than most you would find in intermediate and primary fiction.

I suppose this keeps with October’s theme. A link to Common Sense Media appears under each book for parents and teachers to assess whether or not the book’s material is appropriate for their children / students.

If you’re interested in books appealing to younger crowds, or children’s literature in general, check the links that Jen Vincent provides on her blog. There you will find a list of sites participating. Each separate site has a similar posting with children’s literature titles.

What am I reading?


Pax by Sarah Pennypacker


Image result for pax sara pennypacker

Pax is the youngest book on the spectrum; it is often marketed as an intermediate book. Pax follows a young boy and his fox as the two are separated and trying to find one another. This book blossoms with crisp and descriptive prose, as well as emotional-intelligent character development. From my own experience, the book was true to boyhood. Obviously, that depends on the reader! As Pax and his boy, Peter, find their way in the world, the reader becomes increasingly aware of the personal and inter-personal conflicts involved in the human condition. Peter must form and patch up relationships with adults, while Pax must navigate what it is like to be a domesticated fox released into the wild. The novel alternates perspectives and storylines, creating an unforgettable experience for the reader.

Common Sense Media: Pax by Sarah Pennypacker


Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Ghost is easy for a sixth grader to read, but I would recommend it to seventh and eighth graders first, purely based on the first chapter. The main character, Castle Cranshaw, experiences a traumatic; he and his mother must run away from his father during a frightening alcoholic episode. This event is referenced in the book; however, most of the book follows him as he goes through the milestones of middle school: joining the track team, finding his place among peers, learning to overcome embarrassment, and running towards the person he wants to be. It’s a great book. I had the opportunity to hear the author, Jason Reynolds speak at a school function. He was phenomenal. Ghost is part Jason Reynold’s Track series.

Common Sense Media: Ghost by Jason Reynolds

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


The Graveyard Book Book Poster Image

Neil Gaiman’s prose are deliciously dark and sharp. He pulls no punches, as the book starts with a very creepy murder. If children’s horror is up your alley, look no further! According to my sixth grade students, The Graveyard Book is a great, is a great, imaginative read. I just started it this week, so I can only speak to what I know. Neil Gaiman has impressed me with his other work, and I have no doubt the rest of the book will continue to hook me with every scene.

Common Sense Media: The Graveyard Book


What are you reading?

Please comment or share. The new layout occasionally moves the comment link to the top of the post! Happy Monday!

Fantasy Fans United

We are building a community for fans of fantasy fiction. Make a post with the hashtag #FantasyFansUnited on any of your social media accounts. All posts should be related to fantasy fiction, cinema, or artwork.

Fantasy Fans United

This call to action, and this week’s Coffee Question comes from Evanston, Illinois.


Who else is looking for fantasy on WordPress?

When looking through the WordPress Reader, a friend of mine noticed the under-representation of fantasy enthusiasts on WordPress.

Knowing that there is a wealth of people interested in fantasy fiction, world building, swords and sorcery, magic, and medieval-inspired stories and novels, we couldn’t help but pose this question this week.

This Week’s Questions

Are you looking for fantasy too? What kind of fantasy content do you want to see on WordPress? Do you have a fantasy blog, website, or other content that you could share?

Sharing your thoughts, content, and WordPress sites allows other readers to see your enthusiasm for this genre.

Paper Palaces may decide to feature your blog posts and site content on Twitter and Instagram if it is relevant to future posts and questions.

Read my answers to these question below, or start sharing your own answers in the comments section!

My Answer:

I’m definitely looking for more fantasy on WordPress. I would like to see more fantasy book reviews, short stories, and novelists. I’m interested in characters with depth and magical worlds that feel complete.  Honestly, I’ll follow any content that seems interesting or tickles my interest.

For more about Coffee Questions please visit our site page.

What’s your answer? Comment below or post on your blog with the hashtag #fantasyfansunited.

Why should writers study horror?

Intelligent conversations about horror are happening daily, but who’s hearing them? Despite the large number of horror aficionados in the world, many readers and writers have steered away from works of horror without fully engaging the genre as a whole.

Putting aside your genre-preferences, all writers should spend a little time unpacking works of horror to see what all the screams are about.


Reactions to horror are wildly polarized in our society. This may be, in part, related to our preconceived notions about horror. As October’s two spookiest days set in this year – Friday the 13th, and Halloween – many turn their TV’s and streaming services to horror-related movies and shows.

Instagram bubbles with well-rendered work from costume designers, make-up artists, Halloween enthusiasts, and horror fans. While it may seem like horror belongs to the month of October, there is enough spectacular work produced year-round to make every month overflow with the genre. Sadly, some associate horror only with B-list movies, teen tv-shows,  and gore / slasher films. While there is a place for these creations in the horror genre, the larger reality is that the breadth and depth of horror is much richer.

Reason # 1: Author’s Craft & Audience Engagement

By reading a horror book, or simply watching a show, scene, or movie, writer’s can study the author’s craft. Author’s craft has multiple definitions; I am referring to the collection of techniques and methods that authors use to create a quality piece of literature or entertainment. Some of these techniques include character development, style, attention to detail, and use of genre-related tropes.

The most successful books, shows, and literature from the horror genre often involve well-developed characters, scenes, and worlds. Whether the world is completely fictional or set in a fictionalized reality (e.g. Stephen King’s Derry, Maine), experienced authors would agree that crafting these worlds and the people within them take time, effort and persistence.

Take Stranger Things, for example. This very popular show on Netflix is steeped with horror tropes and techniques, as well as conventions used in gothic literature. If writers dissected how this show tells a story,  they would find a wealth of lessons. Each character has their own motivations, but those motivations are revealed gradually. Likewise, the creators have also decided to reveal the most important plot details strategically, heightening the audience’s experience. Although the show is not without flaw, it is very well done!

As a result of their craft, Stranger Things grips an audience. Whether it’s references to dungeon and dragons, or apt head-nods to the popular works of horror, the show accomplishes a very important aspect of writing: audience engagement. At times, this ability to grip an audience is a lesson in itself.

The Take-Away For Writers?

Audience engagement is essential to any piece of literature or entertainment. If your audience or reader does not appreciate your craft, your storytelling, or any piece therein, they will not read your work.

Reason # 2: The Psychology of Horror

True horror pertains to more than just the physical. The human psyche is prone to countless fears that writers should understand. While developing a scene, writers should be aware of how and why their characters respond to the conflicts around them. By precisely creating scenes that work with the reader’s empathy for any character, the writer increases the quality of the reading experience.

Fear is a large component of this. Craft the character with all of his or her fears in mind – physical, mental, and spiritual. This adds a deeper dimension to the character, helping the reader psychologically engage with the character’s struggles. As human beings, we tend to empathize with characters. Sometimes, we draw parallels between ourselves and the protagonists of a book. Great horror writers capitalize on the humanity of their characters, giving reader’s a chance to identify with each scene.

Remember the last time you gripped a book in suspense? What about when a friend or family member said, “Don’t go in there!” to the television screen? As human beings we often feel the need to connect. If writers spent a short time studying how the best horror writers create these compelling scenes, we would see a lot of gripping fiction.

For scientific reasons why horror movies and literature grips us, see the suggested reading at the bottom of this post.

The Take-Away For Writers?

Creating fully-fleshed characters psychologically enhances your reader’s experience. Horror writers know this, and studying their techniques proves useful.

Reason # 3: Popular Literature

It’s difficult to write a blog post about horror without mentioning a few popular novelists and creators. Stephen King, one of the most popular contemporary novelists in the genre, has contributed over 50 novels to the world. Regardless of what you may think of his writing style and methods, King has clearly had a successful career as a writer.

Currently, I’m reading The Shining, and like King’s other books, the development of his characters and scenes is much slower and more rooted in reality than expected. While he pulls no punches, his scenes take time to develop, bringing the reader into a clear vision of what  he wants us to see. This attention to detail is one of the aforementioned techniques of author’s craft. Furthermore, King’s horror is rooted in the psychological nuances of human beings, not just the supernatural. This type of character development and scene creation lends itself to greater reader engagement, as the characters and worlds feel real.

Neil Gaiman’s creations, while not limited to horror, do the same. His work creates believable characters in situations and worlds that sometimes defy logic and expectation. Conversely, he plays with these realities he has created, ensuring his stories fit within their own logical set of rules and principles guiding their fictional worlds.

The Take-Away For Writers?

If the goal is to find out what attracts a broad audience of readers, popular authors and creators are perfect subjects of study.

Suggested Reading:

On Writing Horror (Revised Edition): A Handbook by the Horror Writer’s Association – Edited by Mort Castle (This book on GoodReads)

Horror is Good For You And Even Better For Kids –

The Psychology of Fear: Exploring the Science Behind Horror Entertainment

Why Do We Watch Scary Films – Psychology Today

What are some horror works that you recommend?

Are there other reasons that writers should study horror?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

Worldbuilding Tips: Five Useful Articles on Creating a Fictional World

I won’t pretend that I’m the master of worldbuilding, but I will say that I am proud of the world that I built for my novel series A Thousand Watchful Eyes.  For my current novel, The Witch’s Uprising, I’ve made several revisions to the world of Brylennia, ensuring that my fantasy world is both beautiful and believable.  Just the other day, I found some of my original notes and maps. I’m surprised at how much has changed since day one!

Here are five articles that I’ve found useful while creating my fantasy world:

7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding – Gizmodo

The Ultimate Guide to Worldbuilding – Writer’s Edit

10 Rules for Making Better Fantasy Maps – Gizmodo

Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions – Physical and Historical Features

Questions to Ask When You Create A Fictional Culture – Alyssa Hollingsworth

The Witch’s Uprising – Making Noteworthy Titles for Young Adult Novels and Middle Grade Lit

The Witch's Uprising - Cover II Wattpad Edition

While working on a novel is the thrilling, the process is often fraught with little challenges. For example, finding the correct title for the book, section titles for the book’s major divisions, or the simply picking names for each character and town are often difficult tasks. Rushing the process is never a good idea; however, one cannot wait forever. During the early stages of world-building,  when the risks are low, most of name-making is easy. As the book nears completion, it’s tougher.

3 Questions to Consider When Crafting Titles

1. Does the title accurately reflect the plot?

If the title does not accurately reflect the plot, you may have a problem. Readers have an expectation from the title. For example The Witch’s Uprising has a witch in it, and there is an uprising! There are no surprises from that title, however the logical questions are in place for a reader to ask. Who is the witch? Where and when is the uprising? What is going to happen?

While the title alludes to specific events in the book, it is also relates to a few thematic threads in the book. In other words, it takes on a deeper meaning when the reader is finished with the book and the series.

2. Does it sound appealing?

How a title sounds is really a matter of opinion, and yet another reason why writers should partner up with friends, family, beta readers and other authors.

Some aspects to consider:

  • Does the title include alliteration, assonance, and/or consonance? Is that good for your genre/book?
  • Does the title sound “catchy” or “sticky”?
  • Is the title too trendy or “catchy” sounding?

I suggest getting multiple opinions.

Can a reader infer much about the book, and would they still want to read it?

If the reader can infer meaning or even a tone from your title, you may have won. However, if your title is off-putting or stops a reader from opening the book, you should reconsider. Using a controversial title is obviously something up for debate. While controversial titles attract readers, there is also the chance of may repelling or offending prospective readers.

Crafting Noteworthy Titles for My Nine-Novel Series

Brainstorming with a Partner

My fiancé and I spent a night together, making dinner and talking about possible titles for each book in my nine-book young adult fantasy series A Thousand Watchful Eyes. This fantasy book series is part of a twelve-novel saga that you can support on Patreon, or follow for free on the Books of Brylennia Facebook Group.

When considering titles, we felt the need to create a sense of continuity between each book.  We wanted titles that would “stick” and directly reference the plot of the book. To do this, we used objects and artifacts from the series (daggers, crowns, swords, etc…).

Laura and I also made a concerted effort to use the word “the” to give a definite sense these titles were speaking to an event or object that the reader would encounter.

The titles are listed below for your perusal:

Series Title: A Thousand Watchful Eyes

A Thousand Watchful Eyes - Swords Clash Darkness White Banner - Twitter and Instagram

Book One: The Witch’s Uprising

Book Two: The Robber Kings

Book Three: The Year of the Forged Crown

Book Four: A Touch of Fire

Book Five: The Witch Queen’s Plea

Book Six: The Hunted Swordsman

Book Seven: The Hand That Heals

Book Eight: The Shattered Sword

Book Nine: Age of Dreams

What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.



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